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A Very Old House in Biñan, Laguna (Alonso-Alberto house)

This was an episode from I-Witness as presented by Howie Severino on channel 7, documenting the Alonso-Alberto house in Biñan, Laguna. It looks like the dismantling and transfer is final. You can check the I-Witness documentary video here or here (links not available anymore.)

No offense meant but I find it trivial and inconsequential the argument that was used to justify it’s (partial) sale and  removal from Biñan (said to be the Alonso-Alberto family relation in the past.) I thought  that after more than a century, it would be water under the bridge and would not have any bearing in the conservation of this house.

A johnny-come-lately here is the  government of Biñan (still no offense intended.) The house has stood there for more than a century (some mentioned the house as  being 200 hundred years old) and one would think that would have been ample time in securing the house from being demolished or as in this case, transferred. If they knew that it was that important, they should not have waited for the NHI (apparently the NHI tried placing a historical marker on the house, but the family refused.)  A plaque should have been placed even through a local ordinance or through a council resolution a long time ago.  This is a case of too little, too late. I’m not a lawyer, but they could have tried to secure a TRO to temporarily halt the dismantling of the Alberto house if they really wanted to prevent the  transfer of the house from  Biñan to Bataan. The move by the local government, the way I see it, was not only too late but was half-hearted. If there was really a (political) will, they would have had  found a way. And I was hoping that this would be a test case for the Heritage Act.

But in fairness to the former owner of the Alberto house, with the chaos and the smell that is just beyond the ancestral house’s wall, who would want to live in a house with the public market at your doorstep.

Biñan could have been a heritage town like Pila which is also in Laguna or like Taal in Batangas. But I guess like most small towns that embraces “progress” and striving for cityhood, a lot has to be  sacrificed. Rampant commercialism and urban blight is what I can see in the town’s old center. The town plaza is surrounded by nondescript structures, rampant commercialism and urban blight. Fortunately links to the past still exist. Like one of the more beautiful monuments to Dr. Jose Rizal (it looks similar to the one in Zamboanga City), the old municipal hall and the soon to be gone (hopefully not) Alberto-Alonzo house which as mentioned, was said to be 200 years old.

Through the efforts of Dr. Bimbo Sta. Maria and BJ Borja, there is a campaign to save and to keep in Biñan the Alberto house.  In June of 2010, a cultural protest was stage at the very doorstep of the house in dispute. The photos here were taken during that event.

The Mabuhay Singers

The Crowd During the Cultural Protest Last June 2010

I believe one thing  that is (obviously) working against the preservation of this house is the location.  It looks like it is occupying  prime real estate which makes the land more valuable without the “old” house. A more economically viable “new” structure erected in its place will be more commercially feasible. And whoever decides to save or restore the house, there is the problem or nuisance that once outside,  one can see what I believe  is a part or extension of the public market. Making it chaotic and smelly.  One can see this in the photos, were the house is hemmed in by all sorts of commercial establishments and stalls.

This is probably the only original structure left standing that has a direct connection to Dr. Jose Rizal and his family. Hence its  importance not only for Biñan and the province of Laguna, but also for the Philippines.  Rizal being the country’s greatest hero. Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary is just a few months away and it’s ironic that his mother’s house (which he probably stayed in or visited too) is mired in controversy and its very existence  is in danger of either being demolished or being transferred. Disappearing altogether in the town where Rizal’s parents are from.

(Original since the one in Calamba is a post war replica and the one in San Nicolas, Binondo burned down a few years ago. Connected, since it is reputedly the house of the family of Rizal’s mother.)

But whatever the circumstances that surrounds the history of the house whether it is directly connected to Jose Rizal or not, it is still important to save this (heritage) structure for the simple reason that it is a part not only of the tangible heritage of Biñan, but forms part of its history. And it is the people of this town that would lose if the house is either uprooted or torn down. A part of their memory would be gone.

Hopefully, a miracle will happen and thanks to the efforts of  Dr. Bimbo Sta. Maria and BJ Borja.


For the video links credits goes to the original uploader and the videos are from GMA-7.




4 Responses to A Very Old House in Biñan, Laguna (Alonso-Alberto house)

  1. Salamat po ng marami G. Bugayong sa iyong simpatiya sa adbokasiya ng pag-liligtas sa bahay Alberto mula sa pagkagiba at paglilipat sa Bataan.

    Hindi kailan man natin lubos na mauunawaan ang kasalukuyan kung hindi natin alam ang nakaraan. Lalo ng hindi natin matatanaw ng malinaw ang ating hinaharap kung kapos ang ating kaalaman ng ating kasaysayan.

    Pumukaw nawa ang iyong mga isinulat sa kamalayan ng ating mga kababayan, pribado at publiko, upang mahalin at ipagmalaki ang ating pagkakakilanlan. Huwag sanang mawaglit sa limot, lalo na ng mga kabataan, ang dugong ibinuwis ng ating mga bayani para sa kalayaan na tinatamasa ngayon ng mahal nating bayan. Mahalin natin pong lahat ang ating bayan, mahalin po natin ang ating kasaysayan!

    Dr. Bimbo Sta. Maria, UACCD

  2. Many thanks to Conrado Bugayong for helping to publicize the great danger to this unique house. Aren’t the persons involved in dismantling the house treating it as any ordinary piece of disposable commercial property? Are they unaware that in the crevices of this house exist fragments of the DNA of the Alonsos, Albertos and Mercados, from even before June 19th 1861, and afterwards from Calambeño relatives? Wasn’t the wood in this house from trees cut from forests now extinct? Where were the stones quarried, the clay for the tiles obtained, the capiz gathered? After the house is removed, will its location become a place for discarded plastic wrappers of junk food to litter the barren ground? Then later will another building be constructed here identical to thousands of lousy new buildings in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Nigeria?

    • Old structures like this old Alberto’s house and many others should be preserved as a part of our history and culture,part of the social, religious and political struggles and abuses of the colonizers. History enriches our lives and gives us better understanding of who we are.

      Richard Mon

      • Thanks for dropping by. What you said “History enriches our lives and gives us better understanding of who we are” is quite true. Hopefully, we Filipinos appreciate more of our heritage, explore and understand our history, both the good and bad. These I think are keys to the success of our country.

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